When the words “Bucket List” come to mind, people’s initial responses centre around seeing things like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Niagara Falls in Canada, the statue of Christ on Corcovado, the Colosseum in Rome, or the beautiful beaches of Phuket. Occasionally a safari in Africa, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, or visiting the ancient pyramids of Egypt may feature, but Africa has so much more to offer – sometimes overshadowed by treasures that lie in the rest of the world. While I by no means want to insinuate that these spots are not worth visiting – as they are, and having been to some myself, I can say it’s an awe-inspiring experience to be able to travel and see such wonderful things – we can be proud of what the African continent has to offer. Here are only a few picks of the wide variety of options that Africa has to offer.
The largest waterfall in the world, Victoria Falls can be found on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. This majestic curtain of water has been described as “the smoke that thunders” – a name that will embrace its meaning fully only upon witnessing it for yourself. What makes the Falls attractive is that thrill seekers and lovers of nature alike will find themselves accommodated. Those with a heart for adventure can bungee jump off Victoria Falls Bridge, go white water rafting on the Zambezi River at the foot of the Falls, or take a swim in Devil’s Pool – a rock enclosure which will keep you from tumbling down a 100 meter drop while soaking in the magnificent scenery. A scenic helicopter flight or simply looking out over the Falls will leave you silenced and humbled in the best of ways.
Zanzibar is an archipelago made up of a few islands and islets in the Indian Ocean just off of the Tanzanian coast. This destination provides the perfect opportunity to spend your time snorkelling, scuba diving, or lazing around and working on a gorgeous tan. Typically known for its idyllic beaches and coral reefs, Zanzibar also boasts a historical Stone Town which has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Narrow, winding streets, grand mosques, elaborate Arab houses, and bazaars alive with culture offer a perfectly captivating historical alternative to the white beaches and turquoise waters of the archipelago. Ideally, a trip to Zanzibar should include seeing both!
Kenya’s most famous natural reserve, and arguably one of the most popular on the African continent, is a must-see for anyone that wishes to experience some of the abundant and fascinating wildlife Africa has to offer. A hot air balloon ride over the rolling planes or a safari (a name drawn from Swahili meaning “journey”) complete with an interaction with the indigenous Maasai people who inhabit the area make for a unique experience that only the African continent can provide.
Table Mountain’s name is well-chosen to describe the mountain in Cape Town with a flat surface that is one of the most popular tourist attractions on the continent. Visitors can choose to hike up the mountain but a much quicker and less exhausting option is to take a five-minute cable car ride to the top. Once you’ve reached the flat summit, you will be surrounded with a 360 degree view of Cape Town and its surrounding areas – some of the most beautiful scenic views in South Africa. If you have energy to spare, go on one of the three hikes on top of this flat mountain, or simply enjoy a drink with a view you will never forget!
“Sahara” is an Arabic word meaning desert. If you’re in search of a different climate, raw beauty, and something uniquely different and memorable, the Sahara is the place for you. The Sahara Desert is the world’s largest hot desert and covers most of Northern Africa. A planned Sahara Desert tour trekking with camels will take you through places like Morocco (a place that requires a blog post on its food alone!), the sand dunes of Erg Chebbi, the Dades Gorges, the historical Berber Villages with their dry, dusty mountains and contrasting waterfalls and green valleys, and the Ziz Valley with its palms that colour in the landscape with their beautiful green. See what it means to behold an oasis in the middle of the dessert and experience the harsh contrasts of finding yourself in the middle of a vast expanse that seems never-ending.
For additional ideas for hiking and exploring Africa’s mountainous regions, see Ayiba’s blog post on Africa’s Top Hiking Trails.